The 2012 NFL Draft is in the books and the Seattle Seahawks have been accused of putting together one of the worst drafts of recent years. The main focus is their accused reach in Round 1, ignoring the positive strides made elsewhere in the draft.
The criticism is also largely unfounded, as information has surfaced that Bruce Irvin was going to be taken in the first round whether it was Seattle that drafted him or one of several other franchises.
The one part of the draft that was surprising were the late-round picks. But this is the issue with grading a draft when it is conducted. The GMs and coaches know how they want to use players and have more knowledge about the specific strengths of each player.
If more than one of the final four players selected make the active roster, the grade will need adjusting. Also, if Irvin comes out and registers double-digit sacks, the grade instantly becomes an "A".
The 2012 Seahawk draft deserves an overall grade of a "B", if not higher. They answered their four primary needs with their first four picks and have added some impressive talent to the team.
The Eagles moved up to nab Fletcher Cox. Some had mocked Cox to the Seahawks, but he didn't fill an immediate need for Seattle.
The Seattle Seahawks had made it clear they intended to attempt to acquire more draft picks in the 2012 NFL Draft. They wasted little time, securing the Philadelphia Eagles' fourth-and sixth-round picks to move back three spots.
The player they wanted would still be on the board when they picked, making this a great move. They also managed to get one of their top-rated defensive tackles with one of those picks, making it all the better.
Seattle fills their biggest need with the best fit in the draft, albeit with potential character concerns.
We've all heard the comments, and most of us have made a few of them. What were the Seahawks thinking taking Bruce Irvin in the first round? They could have taken him in Round 2 and secured another top prospect on Thursday night.
It turns out that Pete Carroll and John Schneider are in fact crazy...like a fox.
Michael Lombardi had reported earlier in the week that at least one team had told Bruce Irvin he would be their first-round pick on Thursday. As the draft was progressing, the Seahawks front office received additional intelligence that other teams were planning on drafting Irvin in the first round.
Seeing him as the best speed pass-rusher in the draft, and the perfect eventual replacement for Chris Clemons at the Leo defensive end, they held their new draft spot.
There were several other teams that thought they had the inside track on Irvin. With the number of teams that stated an intention to draft him in Round 1, it is no longer accurate to call him a reach with the 15th selection.
Irvin is the best speed-rusher in this draft and looks very similar to Von Miller as a collegian. He'll need to expand on his bag of tricks, and improve his run defense, but he has the coaching staff in Seattle to train him.
Pete Carroll said Irvin will take over the Raheem Brock role in 2012. Brock had over 600 plays last season, offering a big role as a pass-rushing defensive end. Carroll also said Irvin will be groomed to replace Chris Clemons at the Leo end.
Irvin is only slightly smaller than Clemons, and is 10 pounds heavier than Clemons was coming out of college. Clemons will be a free agent in February and it is difficult to predict if another team will outbid Seattle for his services.
With the importance placed on this position, this pick makes a lot of sense for Seattle.
The Jets wanted to get in front of the Bears and Chiefs to select their receiver.
It was generally assumed the Seahawks were looking for a linebacker in the second round. The first picks on Friday saw a good dose of defensive and offensive linemen, leaving most of the top linebackers on the board...along with two elite running back and wide receiver options also on the board.
The volume of players that fit a need for Seattle made this move a great step for Seattle. They add fifth-and seventh-round picks to move down four draft spots.
Seattle filled their next-biggest need with one of the best fits at the position.
There have been some who question the Seahawks decision to trade down four spots in Round 2, as it led to Mychal Kendricks being taken in the prior spot.
I contend that, at worst, the Seahawks would have been content with Kendricks or Bobby Wagner. When Seattle was looking at their new draft spot it was expected that the Philadelphia Eagles would be looking at a linebacker.
With Lavonte David also on the board, it was clear that a top linebacker would be left on the board.
Wagner looks to be a better fit for the Seahawks than Kendricks. He is about as fast and is more fluid in getting into pass protection. More important, Wagner is a better tackler.
Wagner missed the NFL combine (pneumonia) so he didn't have the results available. For some reason they also opted to not provide a bio page on NFL.com.
Wagner made up for his combine absence with a solid pro day. He turned in a 40 time of 4.45 seconds. Sports Illustrated offered a summary of his performance:
During position drills, Wagner looked incredibly smooth and quick in all his movements. Most importantly, he showed well in coverage drills, as Wagner got depth on pass drops and made several nice plays down the field.
He also displayed good hands catching the ball, which impressed scouts, many who branded him as a two-down, run defender. The versatility and completeness shown in his pro day workout will push Wagner into the top half of the second round.
Wagner should prove to be a needed piece of the Seahawks defense.
Wilson has a high release point, compensating for height deficiencies.
Seattle adds depth and a potential starting candidate with tremendous upside...and bust-factor.
Seattle opted to take a chance on a strong-armed, athletic quarterback who could be the steal of the draft.
Russell Wilson is under 5'11", causing concerns about his ability to play in the NFL. He also set the FBS record in passing efficiency with a quarterback rating of 191.8...greatly aided by throwing 33 touchdowns
Wilson managed just fine in college behind an offensive line that is bigger than what he'll set up behind in Seattle.
The difference in the NFL, though, is that defenders are much more adept at getting into passing lanes and getting their big paws in front of passes. A lower trajectory could mean more batted balls at the next level.
But that is where Wilson's height is misleading. When reviewing footage of his throwing motion, Wilson has a distinct overhand throw...possibly related to his days as a minor-league baseball player and aided by an ample 31" arm length.
His release point is fairly close to that of a 6'2" quarterback, and higher than taller quarterbacks with a shoulder-height release.
It is possible his height will keep Wilson from excelling in the NFL. However, don't be surprised to see him starting for the Seahawks and becoming the steal of the 2012 NFL Draft.
NFL.com describes Wilson as a potential franchise quarterback:
"Wilson is this year's big-time question mark at quarterback. Unlike those who have held this title in the past, Wilson is a stellar passer who shows arm strength and accuracy when he is able to deliver the ball without a hitch. A transfer from North Carolina St. over the summer, he has outstanding football intelligence as he picked up the Wisconsin offense in a short time and was the opening-day starter.
However, at his height teams will have concerns whether or not he can see to make the throws at the next level. He is a mechanical mover who has strong technique and leadership qualities. If Wilson were three inches taller there would be debate at the top of the draft as to where he fits in, but look for teams to take a flier on him in late rounds to see if he can develop and outplay his size."
Wilson shows great intelligence, learning the Wisconsin offense in a matter of just a few weeks.
There were other options at quarterback with a higher floor than Wilson, such as Kirk Cousins. However, if Wilson is able to overcome his height issues, he is a much better passer.
Seahawks fans should know Carroll drafts based on a player's potential, not how high his floor is.
Wilson, at the least, should develop into a very good backup quarterback in 2013. He will provide competition for Matt Flynn next season and beyond, and could even unseat Tarvaris Jackson as the backup in 2012.
Seattle secures a much-needed backup runner who can spell or fill-in for Marshawn Lynch.
The Seahawks entered the draft with a defined need to find a backup quarterback. While some teams opt to add backs who are more change of pace, the Seahawks have that in Leon Washington.
Instead, Seattle took a different approach. They drafted a runner who is very similar to their starter.
Robert Turbin is a big, powerful runner who also has great acceleration and speed. He can hit holes fast or break open a hole with his strength.
I love this approach. Should the Seahawks need to replace Marshawn Lynch, they don't have to change up their run-first approach to their offense. They can also stick to the same approach to running the ball.
NFL.com describes Turbin:
"Turbin is very athletic. Has the size to be a thumper inside, but moves more like a shifty, quick back. Has very quick feet that he employs to stop and start instantaneously out of the backfield. Has a big frame that gets to full speed fast. A classic downhill runner who can run through linebackers and carry the pile. Was a threat throughout his career in the pass game. Has the speed, athleticism, and durability to wear down an NFL defense for an entire game."
Fans are hoping he can produce at the next level. He looks to be a solid addition for the Seahawks.
Seattle gets solid competition at defensive tackle and a player who can help with their pass-rush.
With the first of two picks the Seahawks received from the Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle selects a player at a position they appeared to be fairly well stocked.
However, Alan Branch and Jason Jones will both be free agents at the end of 2012. This pick clearly helps with the future, but also has application for 2012.
Seattle has struggled to generate much of an interior pass-rush. Jaye Howard should offer immediate help, blending a powerful burst off the line and fluid change of direction.
This pick is solid, but some fans were hoping Seattle would add a receiver to compete with an already thick unit. Nick Toon (Wisconsin) was still on the board and would have been a good fit with their newly-drafted quarterback.
With the health issues Seattle has had at the position, many were expecting Seattle to grab a competitor during the draft.
Seattle also had the opportunity to take Orson Charles (TE, Georgia), who was considered a potential first-round pick at one point. There were also several options on the board for depth on the offensive line.
Jaye Howard was the highest rated player on their board, though, and it isn't hard to see why.
He is a big, powerful defensive tackle who can be a real force in the NFL. The one concern is he tends to disappear at times and was inconsistent in college.
If Gus Bradley can keep him focused, Howard will be a great addition. He runs well for a 6'3", 301 lb. lineman, posting a 40-time of 4.82. More important, his 20-yard shuttle was an impressive 4.47.
Howard showed positive progression throughout his collegiate career. He was in better shape this last season and it showed on the field.
He ended the 2011 season with 65 tackles, 10 for a loss. He also had 5.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries, one returned for a touchdown.
NFL.com offers insight on Howard's play:
"Howard has been a durable player for the Gators. He is very quick off the ball for his size, although he can forget his technique (a testament to his inconsistent play overall) and rise up to get stonewalled by offensive linemen at times.
He is very good against the run and has the ability to snap quickly off the ball, engage a lineman, then work off him to move laterally towards a running back and make a big-time play in the backfield."
Fans will at least like the "durable" portion of Howard's play. With a year to learn, Howard could be a solid starter that can rush the passer...another big need for the team from the interior linemen.
Seattle acquired a Pro Bowl running back for very little draft capital.
It doesn't get much better than that.
Seattle adds depth where needed but with questionable value compared to other options on the board.
Seattle again shows little regard for what others think of the players they are interested in. Korey Toomer was not expected to be drafted by several analysts, while others saw him as a fifth-or sixth-round talent.
This pick is not a surprise to those who follow the Seahawks closely. They gave him a personal workout at his pro day before bringing him into VMAC under the "local product" clause of the NFL's pre-draft visitation rules earlier this month.
Toomer is a fast product with good size and long, disruptive arms. He runs a 4.48 40 and will give the Seahawks another player to work into their different looks at linebacker. His size is the primary concern, weighing just 230 lbs at 6'2" tall.
SI.Com did see Toomer as a draftable player in the fifth round. They grade him as a player who needs time to develop, but could grow into a starter:
Biography: Junior college transfer who broke into the starting lineup last season then posted 68 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks.
Positives: Athletic linebacker with tremendous upside. Fluid and smooth moving in every direction of the field, quickly changes direction and covers a lot of area. Breaks down well, uses his hands to protect himself and displays the ability to get through blocks and make plays up the field.
Remains disciplined with assignments, recognizes coverage responsibilities and can run downfield with tight ends. Solid open-field tackler who effectively makes plays in space.
Negatives: Displays hesitation in his game and is late to react. Seems to do more chasing at times rather than playmaking.
Analysis: Toomer is a prospect whose game is on the rise, but he is a late-boomer who is transitioning his natural athleticism onto the football field. He possesses the size and skill to play on a strong side for a variety of defensive schemes and is a terrific developmental prospect.
Once again, the Seahawks don't appear ready to risk losing a player when he reaches their value-point. Perhaps they could have gambled he'd be available in the next round, but his fit with their schemes could make him a quality roster addition.
My biggest concern with this pick is that they left Darius Fleming (Notre Dame) on the board. He is a promising option who I thought would be a solid fit in Seattle. While many have him rated as a seventh-round pick, he may not last until Seattle's pick in Round 6.
Taken at a position of value and potentially fills a need.
This is the second of two picks acquired from the Eagles to move down in Round 1.
Seattle had two major needs and a lot of concerns headed into the draft. Most of those had been answered in the first five rounds, thanks in part to a few trades that sent additional draft compensation to the Seahawks.
Needs at this point appear to be depth on the offensive line, secondary options/backup free safety and potential playmakers for the offense.
The Seahawks opted to grab a small-school cornerback who has several applications in the NFL. Jeremy Lane has been getting a lot of attention in recent weeks as a player who could be a productive roster addition.
Lane was expected to be taken in Round 5, so grabbing him at the start of Round 6 blends need with value. He has good size (6'0",190 lbs.) for the Seahawk defense.
Seattle adds a versatile defensive back that can provide depth and special teams help.
The Seahawks go back to the defensive back well, this time selecting a tough, physical player from Kentucky.
Winston Guy was projected as a Round 6 pick and provides depth for Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. He will also be a solid contributor on special teams, an area the Seahawks need to improve.
The absence of offensive linemen taken thus far, along with wide receiver, could show a distinct vote of confidence in those position groups. However, the Seahawks claim they simply held true to their draft board, focusing on value instead of need.
The multiple defensive backs could point to health concerns with Walter Thurmond and certainly fit with their philosophy of being a tough, physical football team.
Guy is a tackling machine, notching 120 from the safety position. He is great in run support, and could provide some interesting looks should the Seahawks wish to run him with Kam Chancellor on select rushing downs.
According to NFL.com, Guy will be a solid, versatile producer in the NFL:
"Guy is a big safety from Kentucky who, not unlike last year's draft gem Randall Cobb on the offensive side, was a defensive jack of all trades for Kentucky throughout his career. He played corner as a freshman before moving to safety for his second and third years, and ultimately ended up at outside linebacker. Projects as a safety in the NFL and has the special-teams ability to contribute early; late-round value."
Seahawks fans should enjoy watching Guy in the preseason and on special teams during the course of the year.
Seattle will attempt to convert a defensive lineman into a guard instead of drafting an established player.
While J.R. Sweezy may not fit with the expected pick at guard, he does fit with much of the Seahawks draft class in a more disturbing way.
Sweezy was suspended from the team in 2010 following an altercation with a shuttle bus driver. He had other legal issues, too, such as an arrest for multiple drug violations.
A procedural error by the police department led to those charges being dropped, so at least he has luck on his side.
With David Molk (C, Michigan) and other options still on the board, it is difficult to understand why they are taking on a project his coaches at N.C. State didn't bother with. This will be an interesting test of the Seahawks brass.
Scruggs' strong hands allow him to finish off this sack.
Seattle adds another defensive lineman, ignoring options at other positions.
The initial reaction is "how many defensive linemen can the Seahawks possible carry?" There are some perceived needs which aren't being addressed, but some strides were made when signing undrafted free agents.
Still, it would have been nice to see depth added on the offensive side of the ball.
Scruggs is a 6'3", 284 lb defensive end. He was rated at about the 650th player in this draft class.
The Seahawks see something special in him, having him rated as one of the better defensive ends in the draft. Drafting him was likely the only way to get him to Seattle, so some patience needs to be afforded to see if he can develop.
Some may have preferred to see the Seahawks go in a different direction and chase Scruggs as an free agent. However, it might have been difficult to convince him to come across the country and compete with what looks like a deep set of options on the defensive line.